Cats are solitary animals that for most of the time spend their day hunting or wandering about. Their habit of moving from branch to branch with a purpose is generally hunting; they have even been reported to stalk and kill animals as their own food. But cats are also considered to be very beautiful pets and are fond of humans. This is especially so in Japan where they are regarded as sacred. There are tales of how when a cat stays long at a place, it will bring good luck and will protect its owner and family from any evil.
Domestic cats, on the other hand, are those which are kept for their companionship and because of the enjoyment that they get from it. Domestic cats have distinct characteristics of their wild ancestors in being almost completely carnivorous, extraordinarily agile and strong, and finely coiled in movement. Domesticated cats, on the other hand, have lost most of these features and developed those which were lost through man’s tampering. It is said that the domestic cat became domesticated as a result of man’s tampering, but this cannot be entirely true.
A more likely story is that domestic cats became domesticated because they benefited largely from human interaction. A well-known story from Egyptian mythology explains how a cat came into existence after an apple tree was planted, but it soon became dangerous to the humans who would regularly harvest the apples. As a result, a man smothered a cat and left it to die. When the people gathered to look after it, however, the cat’s mate quickly pounced and killed over two hundred of the harvest apples! Thus, thanks to man, domestic cats grew into confident, warlike felines, which can be seen prowling about the gardens and yards today.
One of the most fascinating theories on cat domestication involves the fact that some breeds have completely independent minds and can think for themselves. The Oriental Leopard Cat is one example, with this breed having an astonishingly complex brain, even thought to be able to solve complex mathematical problems. Other types of cats are said to have similar abilities, such as the Burmese. The Burmese is even said to have invented the wheel. It’s interesting to speculate how far back in history cats might have contributed to intellectual culture.
Historically, house cats served a very important role in society, as caring and loyal companions. While this was obviously necessary for a variety of reasons, there was a time when every home had a cat. Today, many people still keep cats as pets or companions, and many rely on their loyalty and protective nature to ensure their safety. House cats provide an important service for those who wish to live alone, allowing people to leave the comforts of the house and enjoy life without worrying about what could happen.
Beyond its usefulness in society, cats have played a key role in folklore and civilization. Cats have been depicted in literature and song for centuries, giving us insight into the lives of other cultures, both ancient and modern. Some believe that domestic cats evolved from hunting wild cats, while others believe they were domesticated after coming from the wild. No matter what the story is, cats are a prominent part of the history of our species, and will continue to play a part in the future. For more information on cat behavior and the natural history of wild cats, visit The Aquarium website.